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How to Apply for Marriage Allowance in the UK

Updated: Apr 15

Marriage Allowance is a beneficial tax relief for married couples and civil partners in the UK. It allows a lower-earning spouse to transfer a portion of their Personal Allowance to their higher-earning partner, potentially reducing the tax they pay. This article elucidates the process of applying for Marriage Allowance, ensuring that eligible couples can take advantage of this tax relief.

How to Apply for Marriage Allowance in the UK

Understanding Marriage Allowance

Marriage Allowance permits the transfer of £1,260 of the Personal Allowance from the lower-earning spouse to the higher-earning spouse, reducing their tax by up to £252 every tax year (which runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year)​1​. The primary condition for eligibility is that the lower-earning spouse must have an income of £12,570 or less, while the higher-earning spouse’s income should range between £12,571 and £50,270 (or £43,662 in Scotland)​. You can calculate your Marriage Allowance online.

The Pros and Cons of Claiming the Marriage Allowance in the UK

Marriage Allowance in the UK serves as a tax relief beacon for eligible married couples and civil partners, aiming to ease their financial burden. However, like any financial decision, it comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. This article sheds light on the pros and cons of claiming the Marriage Allowance, guiding couples to make an informed decision.

The Pros:

1. Tax Savings

The most apparent benefit of Marriage Allowance is the potential tax savings. By transferring a portion of the Personal Allowance from the lower-earning to the higher-earning partner, couples can save up to £252 annually. Over time, these savings can accumulate, contributing to the household's financial stability.

2. Backdating Claims

Marriage Allowance provides the flexibility to backdate claims for up to four tax years. This retrospectively applied benefit can result in a significant refund, especially beneficial for those who were unaware of the allowance in the previous years.

3. Ease of Application

With a straightforward online application process, claiming Marriage Allowance is relatively hassle-free. The digital platform simplifies the submission, making it easy for couples to apply and receive confirmation of their application.

4. Encouragement of Financial Planning

By engaging with the criteria and process of Marriage Allowance, couples are encouraged to delve into financial planning. It prompts discussions and planning around income, savings, and tax, fostering a financially literate household.

5. Support During Life Changes

Marriage Allowance can provide financial support during life changes such as a decrease in income. By redistributing the Personal Allowance, it can provide a buffer during financially challenging times.

The Cons:

1. Income Limitation

One of the limitations of Marriage Allowance is the strict income criteria. The lower earner's income must be £12,570 or less, and the higher earner must fall within a specific income bracket. This could exclude couples who do not meet these criteria from enjoying the benefits of Marriage Allowance.

2. Potential Delay in Processing

Although the application process is straightforward, there can be a delay in processing, especially if applying through traditional methods or during high-demand periods. This delay could temporarily stall the financial benefit couples are hoping to receive.

3. Confusion Around Eligibility

The eligibility criteria, while clear, can create confusion for couples with multiple income sources. Determining who should apply and how other income types affect the claim can be perplexing.

4. Possible Overlook

The allowance, while beneficial, can easily be overlooked, especially by those unaware of its existence or its benefits. This lack of awareness can lead to missed financial relief opportunities.

5. Dependency on Tech-Savviness

The online application process, while convenient, may pose a challenge for individuals who are not tech-savvy. The digital barrier could deter some from claiming the allowance.


The Marriage Allowance presents a bouquet of financial benefits for eligible couples, aimed at providing tax relief and fostering financial conversations within households. However, the path is not devoid of hurdles, with income limitations and potential processing delays among the few. Being aware of both the advantages and the shortcomings of Marriage Allowance enables couples to make a well-informed decision. With the right information and guidance, navigating the Marriage Allowance landscape can lead to a fruitful financial outcome, aligning with the long-term financial goals of the household.

The Eligibility Criteria for Marriage Allowance in the UK

Marriage Allowance is a unique tax benefit in the UK, designed to provide financial relief to married couples and civil partners. By understanding and meeting the eligibility criteria, couples can take advantage of this allowance, potentially lowering their annual tax bill. This article delves into the eligibility requisites for Marriage Allowance, offering a clear roadmap for couples eager to capitalize on this financial incentive.

Personal Income Thresholds

One of the primary eligibility criteria for Marriage Allowance revolves around the income levels of both individuals in the relationship. The lower-earning partner must have an income of £12,570 or less during the tax year. Concurrently, the higher-earning partner’s income should fall within the bracket of £12,571 to £50,270, or £43,662 if residing in Scotland. It's the disparity in income that sets the stage for the allowance transfer, rendering a reduced tax bill for the higher earner.

Marriage or Civil Partnership

Only individuals who are either married or in a civil partnership are eligible for Marriage Allowance. It's imperative that the relationship is officially recognized under the UK law. The allowance seeks to provide financial ease to couples, reinforcing the economic bonds that often underpin such partnerships.

National Insurance Numbers

A practical aspect of the eligibility criteria is the requirement for both partners to have National Insurance numbers. These numbers are pivotal for tax and benefit processes in the UK. If one partner doesn't have a National Insurance number, due to recent immigration to the UK and not planning to work or study, they can still apply for Marriage Allowance by contacting the Income Tax helpline.

Claim Initiation

The process of claiming Marriage Allowance should be initiated by the lower-earning partner, as it's their Personal Allowance that's being partially transferred to the higher-earning partner. This specific eligibility criterion ensures that the process is conducted correctly and that the intended financial relief is achieved.

Backdating Claims

An enticing aspect of Marriage Allowance is the ability to backdate claims. Couples can backdate their claim to include any tax year since 5 April 2019, provided they were eligible during those years. This provision allows couples to retrieve financial benefits retrospectively, a feature that underscores the UK government’s commitment to supporting marital economic partnerships.

Other Income Considerations

In scenarios where either partner has other sources of income, such as dividends or savings, it may require additional calculations to ascertain who should make the claim. The intricacies of multiple income streams could influence eligibility and the process of claiming Marriage Allowance.

Awareness and Action

Lastly, a fundamental yet often overlooked eligibility criterion is awareness. Couples must be aware of Marriage Allowance, its benefits, and the process of claiming it. Being informed and taking timely action is quintessential for reaping the financial benefits this allowance offers.

Navigating the eligibility criteria for Marriage Allowance is the first step towards securing this financial benefit. With clear income thresholds, an official marital status, and the requisite National Insurance numbers, couples are well on their way to reducing their annual tax bill. The backdating provision further enhances the allure of Marriage Allowance, providing a retrospective financial cushion. By understanding and adhering to these eligibility criteria, married couples and civil partners in the UK can fortify their financial standing, making the most of the tax relief opportunities at their disposal.

Preparing to Apply

Before starting the application process, ensure you have the necessary details at hand. You will need your National Insurance number and your partner’s National Insurance number. If you have recently moved to the UK and don’t plan to work or study, you may not have a National Insurance number. In such cases, you can contact the Income Tax helpline to apply for Marriage Allowance.

To use the online service for applying, you'll need to sign in using your Government Gateway user ID and password. If you haven’t used the Government Gateway before, you’ll need to prove your identity to register. You can use your National Insurance number or postcode along with two of the following: a valid UK passport, a UK photocard driving licence, a payslip from the last 3 months or a P60 from your employer for the last tax year, details of a tax credit claim, details from a Self Assessment tax return, or information held on your credit record like loans, credit cards or mortgages​​.

Online Application

The quickest way to apply for Marriage Allowance is online. The online application process is straightforward and free. You will receive an email confirming your application within 24 hours of submission​1​. It’s essential that the lower-earning spouse makes the claim as the allowance transfer affects their Personal Allowance. If both of you have no income other than your wages, then the person who earns the least should make the claim. However, if either of you gets other income, such as dividends or savings, you may need to work out who should claim​.

Alternative Application Methods

If for some reason you cannot apply online, there are alternative methods available. You can apply for Marriage Allowance through Self-Assessment if you’re already registered and send tax returns. Alternatively, you can apply by filling the Marriage Allowance form MATCF and sending it to the address specified on the form.

The form designated by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for applying for Marriage Allowance in the UK by post is the form MATCF. This form allows you to transfer 10% of your Personal Allowance to your spouse or civil partner, provided you're eligible for Marriage Allowance. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use the form:

  1. Download and Save:

    • Firstly, you need to download the MATCF form onto your computer from the official government website.

  2. Open with Adobe Reader:

    • Once downloaded, it's essential to open the form using the latest free version of Adobe Reader. This is crucial because the form might not function correctly if opened with other software or directly in your internet browser.

  3. Complete On-Screen:

    • Fill out the form on your computer screen, ensuring all the necessary fields are accurately completed.

  4. Check for Accuracy:

    • Before proceeding, double-check all the information entered for accuracy to prevent any delays or issues in processing.

  5. Print and Sign:

    • After completing, print out the form, and sign it. Your signature is crucial for the validation of the information provided.

  6. Post to HMRC:

    • Finally, mail the signed form to the address provided on the form or on the HMRC website.

  7. Wait for Acknowledgment:

    • Once the form is received and processed by HMRC, they will notify you regarding the status of your Marriage Allowance application.

This process ensures that even those without internet access or those who prefer traditional methods can apply for Marriage Allowance. The MATCF form is designed to be user-friendly, but it's always advisable to have all necessary documentation at hand before starting to fill it out. Moreover, if there's any part of the form that you find confusing or need further clarification on, it's advisable to consult with a tax professional or contact HMRC directly for guidance​.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Filling Out the MATCF Form

The Marriage Allowance Transfer Claim Form (MATCF) is a crucial document for couples in the UK who wish to transfer a portion of their Personal Allowance to their spouse or civil partner. The form can seem daunting at first glance, but each section serves a specific purpose. Here's a breakdown of each section and what questions you can expect under them.

Section: About this Form

What is this form for?

This section provides an overview of the Marriage Allowance and mentions the option of applying online. If online application is not feasible, this form is your go-to document.

Section: Eligibility Criteria

Can I apply?

Before diving into the form, make sure to read through this part. It outlines the conditions you must meet to be eligible for Marriage Allowance. Questions here will ask you to confirm if you're married or in a civil partnership and if you're a basic rate taxpayer.

Section: Personal Details

What's your name and National Insurance number?

This is where you enter your own details. The form asks for your full name, National Insurance number, and perhaps other identifying information like your date of birth.

Section: Spouse or Civil Partner's Details

What are your spouse's or civil partner's details?

Similar to the 'Personal Details' section, this is where you input your spouse's or civil partner's information. You'll be asked for their name and National Insurance number.

Section: Transfer Details

For which tax year are you applying?

This section is about the specifics of the transfer. You'll be asked to specify the tax year you're applying for and may need to indicate that you are transferring 10% of your Personal Allowance.

Section: Declaration

Do you confirm that all information provided is accurate?

This is the legal part of the form where you affirm that all the details you've provided are accurate. You'll be asked to sign and date this section.

Section: Additional Notes

Any additional information?

Some MATCF forms come with a section for extra notes or comments. Here, you can include any additional information that might be relevant to your application.

Section: Attachments

What documents need to be attached?

If you need to attach supporting documents like a marriage certificate, this section will guide you on how to do it.

Section: Submission

Where and how should I submit the completed form?

The last part of the form provides instructions on where to send or submit your filled-out form. It may offer multiple methods, such as post or email.

Section: What to Do Now

What are the next steps?

This is often the final section in the form. It provides guidelines on what to expect after you've submitted your application, how long it will take to process, and whom to contact for further queries.

Understanding each section and the questions under them will make the process of filling out the MATCF form less intimidating and more straightforward. Always read accompanying notes or guidelines for any additional help or clarification.

Procedural Changes Post-Application

Once your application for Marriage Allowance is successful, certain procedural changes take place concerning your Personal Allowances. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will transfer the stipulated allowance to your partner. This transfer can be reflected in two ways:

  1. Tax Code Alteration: Your partner’s tax code will be amended to reflect the transferred allowance. This process might take up to two months. Both you and your partner will receive new tax codes. If you are the recipient of the allowance, your tax code will end with ‘M,’ and if you are the one transferring the allowance, your tax code will end with ‘N.’ This tax code change will also happen if you are employed or get a pension.

  2. Self-Assessment Tax Return: If you or your partner are self-employed or send self-assessment tax returns, the Marriage Allowance will be adjusted during the self-assessment process.

These procedural changes ensure that the transferred allowance is accurately reflected in the tax computations for both individuals.

Claiming Marriage Allowance Refund

Claiming Marriage Allowance Refund

You might be eligible for a Marriage Allowance refund if you were eligible in the previous tax years but didn’t claim it. The good news is that claims can be backdated for up to four years. So, if you are just becoming aware of Marriage Allowance, you can still benefit from it retrospectively. The amount of refund would depend on the Personal Allowance and tax rate for each year. The person giving up part of their Personal Allowance needs to make the claim, and while doing this, claims for earlier years can also be made.

To claim a refund, you can use the online facility on GOV.UK, which requires a Government Gateway user ID and password. If you don’t have these, you’ll have to prove your identity to register for the Government Gateway. For prior years, you will receive a refund cheque from HMRC. For the current tax year and going forward, your own and your spouse or civil partner’s tax codes will be amended. For the self-employed and others in Self-Assessment, the Marriage Allowance refund will be dealt with as part of the Self-Assessment tax return.

How Long Does It Take to Apply for/Receive Marriage Allowance?

The processing of marriage allowance claims can extend to a period of two months, given that HMRC requires time to adjust each claimant's tax code which is a prerequisite for issuing the refund.

Beware of Tax Refund Companies

It's important to exercise caution when dealing with tax refund companies. Some organizations offer to make the Marriage Allowance claim for you but take a fee from any repayment you get. While these companies can act unscrupulously, remember that claiming Marriage Allowance is a free and straightforward process that you can do yourself online or by contacting HMRC directly.

Adhering to Time Limits

Time limits are set for claiming Marriage Allowance refunds. For instance, to claim back to the 2019/20 tax year, couples have until 5 April 2024. For the 2023/24 tax year, the deadline is 5 April 2028. It’s vital to adhere to these timelines to ensure you don’t miss out on any tax relief you are entitled to.

Changing Circumstances and Your Marriage Allowance Claim

Life changes and so can your eligibility for Marriage Allowance. For instance, if you or your spouse become higher rate taxpayers or if there's a change in your marital status such as a divorce, your eligibility for Marriage Allowance will be affected. It's crucial to inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about such changes as soon as they occur to ensure your tax records are accurate and up-to-date. Neglecting to do so could result in incorrect tax calculations and unexpected tax bills.

Informing HMRC

Informing HMRC about changes in your circumstances is a straightforward process. You can contact them via telephone or write to them. It's advisable to do this as soon as possible to prevent any future complications regarding your tax status. This is a proactive step towards managing your Marriage Allowance claim and ensuring compliance with the UK tax regulations.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Sometimes, you might encounter issues with your Marriage Allowance claim. For instance, a glitch in HMRC's systems had previously omitted Marriage Allowance from self-assessment calculations. Although this has been fixed, it's always a good practice to check your Self-assessment calculation carefully to ensure that the Marriage Allowance claim has been processed correctly.

Summary of Key Points

Marriage Allowance offers a great way for eligible couples to save on their tax bill by transferring a portion of the Personal Allowance from the lower-earning to the higher-earning spouse. The application process is straightforward with online being the quickest method. It’s essential to have the necessary identification details ready, and if you can’t apply online, other methods are available. Post application, there are procedural changes that take place, and it’s possible to claim a refund for previous years if eligible. It’s crucial to stay updated with any changes in personal circumstances that could affect your claim and inform HMRC accordingly.

Understanding and applying for Marriage Allowance can lead to significant tax savings for eligible couples. It’s essential to be informed about the process, and eligibility criteria, and stay proactive in managing your claim, especially when your circumstances change. By doing so, you not only adhere to the UK tax laws but also ensure that you are making the most of the tax reliefs available to you. Remember, the process is designed to be user-friendly, and help is always available should you encounter any challenges along the way.

How to Cancel Marriage Allowance

Cancelling Marriage Allowance in the UK is a straightforward process that can be initiated either online or by phone. The steps to cancel the allowance are dependent on the reasons behind the cancellation. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to go about it:

Circumstances for Cancellation

There are various circumstances under which you may need to cancel the Marriage Allowance. These include the end of your relationship due to divorce, dissolution of your civil partnership, or legal separation. Changes in income that affect your eligibility or a change of heart towards claiming the allowance are also valid grounds for cancellation.

Who Should Cancel?

If the cancellation is due to the end of the relationship, either party can initiate the cancellation. However, if the reason for cancellation is different, the person who made the claim for Marriage Allowance should be the one to cancel it​​.

Online Cancellation

  1. Website Access: Navigate to the official online portal designated for Marriage Allowance cancellation.

  2. Identity Verification: Before proceeding, you'll need to verify your identity using the information held by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

  3. Cancellation Request: Follow the on-screen instructions to submit your cancellation request​.

Phone Cancellation

  1. Call HMRC: Reach out to the Marriage Allowance inquiries line by dialing 0300 200 3300. For those outside the UK, the number to dial is +44 135 535 9022.

  2. Provide Necessary Information: You'll need to provide your National Insurance number along with your partner's National Insurance number.

  3. Request Cancellation: Inform the representative of your wish to cancel the Marriage Allowance and provide any additional information as requested.

Post Cancellation Scenario

Upon successful cancellation, if it's due to a change in income, the allowance will continue until the end of the tax year (5 April). However, if the cancellation is due to the end of the relationship, the change may be backdated to the start of the tax year (6 April), which could potentially affect the tax for the year.

Additional Assistance

If you encounter difficulties or have inquiries during the cancellation process, it's advisable to contact HMRC for assistance. They can guide you through the steps and ensure the process is completed successfully​.

This systematic guide provides a roadmap to cancelling Marriage Allowance. Whether opting for online or phone cancellation, ensuring that you have all necessary information at hand and adhering to the outlined steps will contribute to a smooth cancellation process.

Navigating Marriage Allowance: How a Tax Accountant Can Be Your Compass

Navigating Marriage Allowance: How a Tax Accountant Can Be Your Compass

In the realm of taxation, Marriage Allowance stands as a beacon of relief for eligible couples in the UK, offering a mechanism to optimize their tax liabilities. However, like many tax reliefs, navigating the nuances of Marriage Allowance can be intricate. This is where the expertise of a tax accountant comes into play. A tax accountant can demystify the technicalities, ensuring you sail smoothly through the process and reap the benefits entitled to you. Here’s a deep dive into how a tax accountant can assist you with Marriage Allowance in the UK:

1. Eligibility Assessment

Before delving into the application process, it's pivotal to ascertain your eligibility for Marriage Allowance. A tax accountant can provide a meticulous assessment of your financial circumstances, evaluating your income levels, and other relevant criteria to determine your eligibility. They can also help in understanding how other forms of income, such as dividends or savings, might impact your claim.

2. Application Assistance

The application process for Marriage Allowance, although straightforward, requires a keen eye for detail. Your tax accountant can guide you through the online application or other available methods, ensuring that all information provided is accurate to prevent any hitches down the line.

3. Maximizing Tax Savings

Marriage Allowance is about financial prudence. A tax accountant can help you understand how to maximize your tax savings through Marriage Allowance. They can also provide insights into other tax-saving opportunities, ensuring you are in a good stead financially.

4. Backdating Claims

If you were eligible for Marriage Allowance in the previous tax years but didn’t claim it, there’s a provision to backdate your claims. Your tax accountant can assist in this retroactive claim process, ensuring you don’t miss out on any financial benefits from the past.

5. Dealing with Changes in Circumstances

Life is a flux, and changes such as a variation in income or marital status can affect your Marriage Allowance claim. A tax accountant can provide expert advice on how to navigate these changes, ensuring compliance with tax regulations while optimizing your financial position.

6. Cancellation Guidance

Should there arise a need to cancel your Marriage Allowance, a tax accountant can provide the necessary guidance. They can help with the cancellation process, ensuring it’s done accurately and in a timely manner, averting any potential tax complications.

7. Audit Preparation

In the event of a tax audit, having a tax accountant by your side can be invaluable. They can help ensure that all aspects of your Marriage Allowance claim, along with other tax-related matters, are in order, aiding in a hassle-free audit process.

8. Continuous Advisory

Tax laws and personal circumstances evolve, and a tax accountant can provide continuous advisory services, ensuring you remain abreast of how these changes affect your Marriage Allowance claim. This ongoing support can be instrumental in maintaining a robust financial position.

9. Educational Insight

A tax accountant doesn’t just provide services; they offer educational insights. They can help you understand the intricacies of Marriage Allowance and other tax reliefs, empowering you to make informed financial decisions.

10. Peace of Mind

Perhaps the most invaluable benefit is the peace of mind that comes with having a professional handle your tax matters. With a tax accountant taking care of your Marriage Allowance claim, you can focus on other important aspects of your life.

Tax accountants are akin to financial compasses, guiding you through the labyrinth of tax regulations surrounding Marriage Allowance. Their expertise not only ensures a smooth application process but also helps in harnessing the full benefits of the allowance, contributing to your financial wellness.


  1. Can Marriage Allowance be claimed if both partners are receiving pensions?

  • Yes, pensioners can still benefit from Marriage Allowance, provided one transfers their unused Personal Allowance to their spouse.

  1. Is there an age limit for claiming Marriage Allowance?

  • There is no age limit; couples can claim Marriage Allowance as long as they meet the other eligibility criteria.

  1. What if both spouses are basic rate taxpayers?

  • If both partners are basic rate taxpayers and one earns significantly less than their Personal Allowance, they can still transfer the unused portion to their spouse.

  1. How does Marriage Allowance interact with other tax benefits?

  • Marriage Allowance does not typically affect other tax benefits, but it's wise to consult a tax advisor for specific situations.

  1. Can Marriage Allowance be reinstated after cancellation?

  • Yes, if a couple's circumstances change again making them eligible, they can reapply for Marriage Allowance.

  1. What happens to Marriage Allowance if one spouse dies?

  • If a partner dies, the Marriage Allowance can continue until the end of the tax year, but it should be reviewed and adjusted if necessary.

  1. Are non-resident couples eligible for Marriage Allowance?

  • At least one spouse must be a UK resident for tax purposes to claim Marriage Allowance.

  1. How do couples with variable income ensure they don't exceed the threshold?

  • Couples should monitor their income and adjust their Marriage Allowance claim if their earnings fluctuate significantly.

  1. Can self-employed individuals claim Marriage Allowance?

  • Yes, self-employed individuals can claim Marriage Allowance if they meet the eligibility criteria regarding income levels.

  1. How do tax codes change once Marriage Allowance is applied?

  • The recipient’s tax code will adjust by adding 'M' and the transferor’s tax code will change to 'N' to reflect the allowance transfer.

  1. What documentation is needed to prove eligibility for Marriage Allowance?

  • Documentation typically includes National Insurance numbers and proof of income, such as payslips or P60s.

  1. How long does it take to process a Marriage Allowance claim?

  • Processing times can vary, but typically it takes several weeks for HMRC to update the records.

  1. Can Marriage Allowance be backdated after a late claim?

  • Yes, claims can be backdated up to four years as long as eligibility conditions were met during those years.

  1. Does a change in income mid-year affect Marriage Allowance?

  • Yes, significant changes in income should be reported to HMRC as they may affect eligibility.

  1. How are overpayments handled if eligibility criteria are no longer met?

  • Overpayments will need to be repaid to HMRC, and adjustments will be made to the tax codes as necessary.

  1. Can Marriage Allowance be divided differently than the standard 10% transfer?

  • No, the transfer fixed at 10% of the Personal Allowance is the only option available.

  1. What specific actions should be taken if personal details change after applying?

  • Notify HMRC immediately if there are any changes to personal details to ensure records are accurate and up-to-date.

  1. How does Marriage Allowance affect the higher earner's tax bracket?

  • The transfer of allowance could potentially lower the higher earner’s taxable income, keeping them within a lower tax bracket.

  1. Are civil partners treated the same as married couples under this policy?

  • Yes, civil partners are treated exactly the same as married couples for the purposes of Marriage Allowance.

  1. What are common reasons for Marriage Allowance applications being denied?

  • Common reasons include incorrect application details, exceeding income thresholds, or failing to meet basic eligibility criteria like marital status.



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